Revelation 5:8
And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) And when he had taken . . .—Better, And when He took the roll, the four living beings and the twenty four elders fell before the Lamb, having each a harp, and golden vials (or, censers) full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints (or, the holy ones). It is not the Church alone which is interested in the revelation which will throw light on life’s mysteries and the delay of the kingdom: the whole creation groaneth, waiting for the reign of righteousness; and therefore the four living beings, who represent creation, join with the elders, who represent the Church, in the adoration of the Lamb who holds the secret of life’s meaning in His hand. The vials (which seem to be censers, as they hold the incense) and the harps, it is perhaps more natural to suppose, were in the hands of the four-and-twenty elders, and not of the living creatures. Here, then, we have the praises (represented by the harps), and the prayers (represented by the censers) of the world-wide and age-long Church of Christ. The comparison of prayer with incense is in strict accordance with Old Testament language. “Let my prayer be set forth before Thee as incense” (Psalm 141:2). The incense held a conspicuous place in the ritual of the Temple. The greatest care was to be taken in the composition of the incense, and the same compound was not to be used anywhere but in the sanctuary. These precautions suggest its typical character. The true odours are the heart-prayers of God’s children. “Of these three sweet ingredient perfumes,” says Archbishop Leighton, alluding to the composition of the Temple-incense, “namely, petition, confession, thanksgiving, is the incense of prayer, and by the divine fire of love it ascends unto God, the heart and all with it; and when the hearts of the saints unite in joint prayer, the pillar of sweet smoke goes up the greater and the fuller.” Every prayer which broke out in sob from an agonising heart, every sigh of the solitary and struggling Christian, every groan of those groping God- ward, mingles here with the songs of the happy and triumphant.

Revelation 5:8-10. And when he had taken the book, the four living creatures fell down — Now is homage done to the Lamb by the whole Christian Church and all its members, represented by these four living creatures. These, together with the elders, make the beginning, and afterward (Revelation 5:14) the conclusion. They are together surrounded with a multitude of angels, (Revelation 5:11,) and together sing the new song, as they had before praised God together, Revelation 4:8, &c. Having every one — That is, each of the elders, not of the living creatures; harps — Κιθαραν, a harp, which was one of the chief instruments of thanksgiving in the temple service; a fit emblem of the melody of their hearts; and golden vials — Cups or censers; full of odours — Or incense, producing odours; which are the prayers of the saints — That is, fit representations of them. As if the apostle had said, As I understood these elders to be the representatives of the church, I apprehended that, in allusion to the incense offered in the temple, while the people were praying, this circumstance had a reference to prayer, and was intended to show how acceptable it is to God, when it proceeds from a holy and an upright heart. And they sung — Or, rather, sing, αδουσιν, a new song — One which neither they nor any others had sung before; saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, &c. — That is, to undertake the work of revealing and accomplishing the designs of God’s providence toward the world, and of his grace toward his church; for thou wast slain — A sacrifice of propitiation; and by thy blood hast redeemed us to God — So the living creatures also were of the number of the redeemed; but this does not so much refer to the act of redemption, which was long before, as to the fruit of it; namely, deliverance from the guilt and power of sin; the tyranny of Satan; the curse of the law; and the wrath of a justly offended God, whose servants and favourites they were now become. Out of every kindred; &c. — That is, out of all mankind. And hast made us, who are thus redeemed, unto our God kings and priests — Consecrated to his service, and honoured with the liberty of a near approach to his presence, to offer up prayers and praises acceptable in his sight; and we shall reign on the earth — The Christian cause shall prevail through all ages, while those happy persons who have passed courageously through their trials on earth shall, at the appointed season, share the honours of thy triumphant kingdom in the new heavens and new earth.5:8-14 It is matter of joy to all the world, to see that God deals with men in grace and mercy through the Redeemer. He governs the world, not merely as a Creator, but as our Saviour. The harps were instruments of praise; the vials were full of odours, or incense, which signify the prayers of the saints: prayer and praise should always go together. Christ has redeemed his people from the bondage of sin, guilt, and Satan. He has not only purchased liberty for them, but the highest honour and preferment; he made them kings and priests; kings, to rule over their own spirits, and to overcome the world, and the evil one; and he makes them priests; giving them access to himself, and liberty to offer up spiritual sacrifices. What words can more fully declare that Christ is, and ought to be worshipped, equally with the Father, by all creatures, to all eternity! Happy those who shall adore and praise in heaven, and who shall for ever bless the Lamb, who delivered and set them apart for himself by his blood. How worthy art thou, O God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, of our highest praises! All creatures should proclaim thy greatness, and adore thy majesty.And when he had taken the book, the four beasts ... - The acts of adoration here described as rendered by the four living creatures and the elders are, according to the explanation given in Revelation 4:4-7, emblematic of the honor done to the Redeemer by the church, and by the course of providential events in the government of the world.

Fell down before the Lamb - The usual posture of profound worship. Usually in such worship there was entire prostration on the earth. See the Matthew 2:2 note; 1 Corinthians 14:25 note.

Having every one of them harps - That is, as the construction, and the propriety of the case would seem to demand, the elders had each of them harps. The whole prostrated themselves with profound reverence; the elders had harps and censers, and broke out into a song of praise for redemption. This construction is demanded, because:

(a) the Greek word - ἔχοντες echontes - more properly agrees with the word "elders" - πρεσβύτεροι presbuteroi - and not with the word "beasts" - ζῶα zōa;

(b) there is an incongruity in the representation that the living creatures, in the form of a lion, a calf, an eagle, should have harps and censers; and,

(c) the song of praise that is sung Revelation 5:9 is one that properly applies to the elders as the representatives of the church, and not to the living creatures - "Thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood."

The harp was a well-known instrument used in the service of God. Josephus describes it as having ten strings, and as struck with a key (Ant. Revelation 7:12, Revelation 7:3). See the notes on Isaiah 5:12.

And golden vials - The word "vial" with us, denoting a small slender bottle with a narrow neck, evidently does not express the idea here. The article here referred to was used for offering incense, and must have been a vessel with a large open mouth. The word "bowl" or "goblet" would better express the idea, and it is so explained by Prof. Robinson, Lexicon, and by Prof. Stuart, in loco. The Greek word - φιάλη phialē - occurs in the New Testament only in Revelation Rev 5:8; Revelation 15:7; Revelation 16:1-4, Revelation 16:8,Revelation 16:10, Revelation 16:12, Revelation 16:17; Revelation 17:1; Revelation 21:9, and is uniformly rendered "vial" and "vials," though the idea is always that of a "bowl" or "goblet."

Full of odours - Or rather, as in the margin, full of incense - θυμιαμάτων thumiamatōn. See the notes on Luke 1:9.

Which are the prayers of saints - Which represent or denote the prayers of saints. Compare Psalm 141:2, "Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense." The meaning is, that incense was a proper emblem of prayer. This seems to have been in two respects:

(a) as being acceptable to God - as incense produced an agreeable fragrance; and,

(b) in its being wafted toward heaven - ascending toward the eternal throne.

In Revelation 8:3, an angel is represented as having a golden censer: "And there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. The representation there undoubtedly is, that the angel is employed in presenting the prayers of the saints which were offered on earth before the throne. See the notes on that passage. It is most natural to interpret the passage before us in the same way. The allusion is clearly to the temple service, and to the fact that incense was offered by the priest in the temple itself at the time that prayer was offered by the people in the courts of the temple. See Luke 1:9-10. The idea here is, therefore, that the representatives of the church in heaven - the elders - spoken of as "priests" Revelation 5:10, are described as officiating in the temple above in behalf of the church still below, and as offering incense while the church is engaged in prayer.

It is not said that they offer the prayers themselves, but that they offer incense as representing the prayers of the saints. If this be the correct interpretation, as it seems to be the obvious one, then the passage lays no foundation for the opinion expressed by Prof. Stuart, as derived from this passage (in loco), that prayer is offered by the redeemed in heaven. Whatever may be the truth on that point - on which the Bible seems to be silent - it will find no support from the passage before us. Adoration, praise, thanksgiving, are represented as the employment of the saints in heaven: the only representation respecting prayer as pertaining to that world is, that there are emblems there which symbolize its ascent before the throne, and which show that it is acceptable to God. It is an interesting and beautiful representation that there are in heaven appropriate symbols of ascending prayer, and that while in the outer courts here below we offer prayer, incense, emblematic of it, ascends in the holy of holies above. The impression which this should leave on our minds ought to be, that our prayers are wafted before the throne, and are acceptable to God.

8. had taken—Greek, "took."

fell down before the Lamb—who shares worship and the throne with the Father.

harps—Two oldest manuscripts, A, B, Syriac and Coptic read, "a harp": a kind of guitar, played with the hand or a quill.

vials—"bowls" [Tregelles]; censers.

odours—Greek, "incense."

prayers of saints—as the angel offers their prayers (Re 8:3) with incense (compare Ps 141:2). This gives not the least sanction to Rome's dogma of our praying to saints. Though they be employed by God in some way unknown to us to present our prayers (nothing is said of their interceding for us), yet we are told to pray only to Him (Re 19:10; 22:8, 9). Their own employment is praise (whence they all have harps): ours is prayer.

When the Lamb that had been slain had obtained of him that sat on the throne to open the book of God’s secret counsels relating to his church, mentioned Revelation 5:1, and had taken it out of his right hand, John saw the four beasts, the four living creatures, mentioned Revelation 4:6-8, by which seemed to be represented the ministers of the gospel, or the whole church of Christ;

and the four and twenty elders, that had on their heads crowns of gold, mentioned Revelation 4:4, by which, we said, were represented either the ministers of the church, or the whole church.

Fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours: he alludeth to the worship of God under the Old Testament, where in the temple they were wont to praise God with instruments of music, and offering up of frankincense: see 1 Chronicles 13:8 15:16 2 Chronicles 5:12 Nehemiah 12:27 Psalm 33:2 141:2 150:3. These vials of odours, he tells us, signified

the prayers of the saints. The whole verse signifies the prayers and praises, even all that adoration which God, under the gospel, should have from his ministers and people, for constituting his Son the Head of his church, and making him their Prophet, Priest, and King. And when he had taken the book,.... The Vulgate Latin version reads, "when he had opened the book", very wrongly; for the opening of it by unloosing the seals, one after another, is hereafter mentioned, in Revelation 6:1, but when it was observed, that the Lamb took the book, and his commission to open, unseal, and fulfil it,

the four beasts, and four and twenty elders, fell down before the Lamb; by way of religious worship and adoration of him; which shows that he was not a mere creature, who assumed human nature, suffered, and died, and is the Mediator between God and men, but is truly God, and is the proper object of worship; and so he is regarded by all his faithful ministers, and true churches, which are here signified by the four living creatures, and four and twenty elders; who are represented as

having everyone of them harps; which were instruments of music, and with which the saints formerly used to praise God, Psalm 33:2; and so may here intend the praises and thanksgivings of the saints, of everyone of them, greater or lesser, upon the present occasion; having their hearts in right tune, making melody with them to the Lord, and giving thanks unto him for all their blessings, temporal and spiritual, and particularly for the Lamb, and his worthiness to open the book, and unloose the seals:

and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints; this is said in allusion to the golden censers full of incense, which ascended upwards, and was of a sweet smell; the vessels on the shewbread table, in which incense was put, are by Josephus (h) called "golden vials", as here; his words are, upon the loaves were put two , "golden vials", full of incense: the prayers of the saints are compared to "odours", or "incense", as the word may be rendered, and as they are called, Psalm 141:2; partly because as incense goes upwards, so do they go up to God, and are received, regarded, and had in remembrance by him; and partly because as incense is of a sweet smell, so the prayers of the saints, put up in the name and faith of Christ, are very grateful and acceptable to God: the "golden vials" said to be "full" of them, may design the hearts of believers, in which they first are, and from whence they proceed; true prayer is that which is inwrought in the soul, and comes from the heart, even from a heart pure like gold, purified by faith in the blood of Christ, a true heart, that asks in faith, nothing wavering; such as are really saints, true believers in Christ, are praying souls; they are full of prayers for themselves and others; they pray always, and for all saints: this makes nothing for praying to angels and saints departed; for these prayers were their own, and not others; and besides, these four living creatures, and four and twenty elders, were not angels, for they are said to be redeemed by the blood of Christ, and are distinguished from angels in the following verses; nor the saints in heaven, but ministers and churches on earth, and who were to reign with Christ on earth, Revelation 5:10; it may be observed, that the Jews sometimes represent prayer in such like figures as here;

"prayer (they say) ascends with those spices which are mentioned in Sol 4:14; and at the time that prayer ascends it is perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, and of this the holy blessed God asks, "who is this that comes up", &c. (i) Sol 3:6;''

and they say, prayer is greater than all offerings (k). See Revelation 8:3.

(h) Antiqu. l. 3. c. 6. sect. 6. (i) Raya Mehimna in Zohar in Exod. fol. 48. 3.((k) Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 40. 3.

{9} And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them {10} harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the {a} prayers of saints.

(9) Now follows the end, the events of the revelation previously spoken of: that all the holy angels and men sang to him: both the chief Re 5:9,10 and common order of angels Re 5:11,12 and of all things created Re 5:13 the princes of both sorts agreeing to it, Re 5:14.

(10) The symbols or signs of praise, sweet in savour and acceptable to God;

(a) See Re 8:3.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 5:8. ὅτε ἔλαβεν (“when he had taken it).”[1924] The aor. is to be understood just as in Revelation 6:1; Revelation 6:3, etc.[1925] Simultaneousness[1926] would have been expressed by the impf.[1927] Naturally, upon the act of the Lamb, which displays the glory belonging exclusively to him, there follows the song of praise, in which the glory just evinced is celebrated.

As in ch. 4, the four beings, the representatives of the entire living creation, and the twenty-four elders, the representatives of redeemed humanity, have worshipped the enthroned God in alternate songs of praise, so here there sounds their united song of praise to the Lamb, before whom they together fall down in adoration; for the Lamb shares in the divine glory of the Enthroned One.[1928] This song of praise finds a response first in Revelation 5:12, in the angelic hosts, and then, in Revelation 5:13, is taken up by all creatures everywhere, and that, too, so that at the close a doxology, in a manner concentrated, sounds forth at the same time to the One sitting on the throne and to the Lamb, and finally dies away in the amens of the four beings who had begun the praise of the enthroned God (Revelation 4:8); and, at the same time with the twenty-four elders, that of the Lamb (Revelation 5:9).

ἔχοντες ἔκασιος

ἁγῖων belongs only to οἱ πρεσβύτ.: for this is indicated, first, by the masc. form (ἔχοντες ἔκαστος); secondly, the unnaturalness of ascribing to beings as fashioned in Revelation 4:7, harps and vials; and thirdly, the incongruence which would result if the representatives of the creation had the office of offering the prayers of saints. The latter is suitable only to elders.[1929]

The elders have each a harp, the instrument with which they accompany their song of praise,[1930] and “golden vials full of frankincense,” viz., as is self-evident, each one a vial, so that we possibly are to think of a vial in the right hand, while the left holds the harp.[1931] The vials filled with frankincense have a symbolical meaning corresponding to the emblem of the harp: ΑἽ ΕἸΣΙΝ ΑἹ ΠΡΟΣΕΥΧΑῚ ΤῶΝ ἉΓΊΩΝ. The ΑἹ may, by attraction, be referred to the ΘΥΜΙΑΜΆΤΩΝ,[1932] yet the formally more simple reference to ΦΙΆΛΑς may be adopted, as the vials are just such as are filled with incense. Concerning the symbolical meaning “its,” cf. Revelation 8:3; Psalm 141:2; Ezekiel 8:11. Arbitrarily and against the meaning of the context, Hengstenb. understands by the prayers symbolically offered only intercessory prayers, whose chief subject is the protection and perfection of the Church, and judgment upon enemies; while he regards the harps as referring to prayers of adoration and thanksgiving.[1933]

ΤῶΝ ἉΓΊΩΝ, i.e., of Christians.[1934] Cf. Revelation 8:3-4, Revelation 13:7; Revelation 13:10, Revelation 11:18, Revelation 18:20. The misunderstanding of this as referring to saints already in heaven[1935] is inapplicable for the reason that the idea that the prayers of the saints are offered to God by the elders[1936] presupposes the fact that the saints themselves are not present with God. With this agrees the mode in which the elders, Revelation 5:9, speak of the saints.

The remark of C. a Lap.: “Note here against Vigilantius, Luther, Calvin, and other Hagiomachoi, that the saints pray for vs, and offer our prayers to God,” is, in other respects, entirely wrong: because, first, the “elders” are in no way identical with the saints who are meant; secondly, while, on the Lutheran side, it is not at all denied that the members of the Church triumphant pray for those of the Church militant [see Note XLVI., p. 217], there is no allusion whatever to the invocation of saints contended against on the Lutheran side; and, finally, it is entirely incorrect to regard the forms of the twenty-four elders included in the plan as real personages, and without any thing further to construct a dogmatical statement upon the act symbolically ascribed to them. Erroneous also is De Wette’s conjecture that John appears to know nothing of a mediatorial office of Christ. Of this, nothing can be expressly said in the present passage, although of course the entire Christology of the Apoc. essentially includes that fundamental Christian thought.

[1924] De Wette.

[1925] Cf. Matthew 7:28; Matthew 9:25.

[1926] “Als er nahm,” Luth.

[1927] 1 Corinthians 13:11.

[1928] Cf. Revelation 5:13; Revelation 22:1.

[1929] In other respects the λέγοντες, Revelation 5:9, has a different relation.

[1930] Cf. Revelation 14:2 sqq., Revelation 15:2; Psalm 146:7; Psalm 150:3.

[1931] Vitr., Ebrard.

[1932] Vitr.

[1933] Cf. De Wette, Ebrard, etc.

[1934] De Wette, Ew. ii.

[1935] Hengstenb.; cf. Beng.

[1936] Cf. Tob 12:2.

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XLVI. Revelation 5:8. αἵ προσευχαὶ τῶν ἁγίων

See Apology of the Augsburg Confession (E. T., p. 236): “We concede, that just as when alive they pray, in general, for the Church universal, so in heaven they pray for the Church in general.” This is sufficient without resorting to the expedient that representatives of the Church triumphant are not here thought of. Quenstedt (Theol. Didact.-pol., iv. 365): “That the saints in heaven triumphing with Christ pray, in general, for the Church, is probably inferred from this passage. But, from this, it cannot be inferred that they have a special knowledge of all things, and are to be religiously invoked. By odors, are not meant prayers of saints who are in this life, but of those blessed ones who are reigning with Christ in heaven. These prayers are not ἱλαστικαὶ, propitiatory, meritorious, and satisfactory, as though, by virtue of their merit, they intercede by them for others, but εὐχαριστικαὶ as described (Revelation 5:9-10).”Revelation 5:8. A thrill of satisfaction over Christ’s ability. “It is the manner of God thus to endear mercies to us, as he endeared a wife to Adam. He first brought all creatures to him, that he might first see that there was not a helpmeet for him among them” (Goodwin). John lays dramatic emphasis on Jesus only. ἐνωπ. τ. . (as before God himself, Revelation 19:4).—γ. θ., cf. Soph. Oed. Tyr. 4, πόλις δʼ ὁμοῦ μὲν θυμιαμάτων γέμει. An essential feature in the rites of Roman sacrifice was music played on tibicines; the patera, a shallow saucer or ladle with a long handle attached, was also employed to pour wine on the altar. Harps held by living creatures who had no hands but only wings, and the collocation of a harp played by a person who is at the same time holding a bowl, are traits which warn us against prosaically visualising such visions. Hirscht compares the adoration of Rameses II. before the sun-god, the monarch’s left hand holding his offering, his right grasping a sceptre and scourge. The fragrant smoke of incense rising from the hand of a worshipper or from an altar in the primitive cultus (cf. Ezekiel 8:2) to lose itself in upper air, became a natural symbol for prayer breathed from earth to heaven; see Philo’s τὸ καθαρώτατον τοῦ θύοντος, πνεῦμα λογικόν.—αἱἁγίων, probably an editorial gloss like Revelation 19:8 b, suggested by the verbal parallel in Revelation 8:3 (so, e.g., Spitta, Völter, Briggs, Julicher, J. Weiss, Wellhausen, etc.). Contrast with this verse (and Revelation 5:4) the description of the enthusiastic seamen and passengers who “candidati, coronatique, et tura libantes,” praised and blessed Augustus in the bay of Puteoli as “He by whom we live, and sail secure, and enjoy our freedom and fortunes” (Suet. Vit. Aug. 98.)

The scene or stage of the apocalyptical drama is occupied by an angelic and heavenly chorus, who upon this solemn and glad occasion give their plaudite or acclamation of glory to the Lord, The future which God rules is revealed by him through Christ; and this moves enthusiastic gratitude, till the universe rings from side to side with praise.8. having every one of them] Perhaps refers to the elders only; though it is not more difficult to picture the living creatures holding harps than the Lamb taking the Book and breaking the seals; nor is it more unfit that Cherubim and Seraphim should present the prayers of Saints than that a single Angel should bless them, as in Revelation 8:3 sq.

golden vials] i.e. broad open bowls; more like saucers than any vessel in modern use.

which are the prayers] If the strict grammar of this sentence is to be pressed, it is the “vials” not the “odours” which are identified with the “prayers.” See Revelation 8:3 and note there. Cf. Psalm 141:2.Verse 8. - And when he had taken the book. "Had taken" (ἔλαβε) is here aorist, not perfect, as in ver. 7. The text should probably read, when he took the book; that is to say, the adoration offered coincides in point of time with the act of taking the book. The four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb. The four beasts as representing animated creation; the four and twenty elders as representative of the Church (see on Revelation 4:4, 6). Having every one of them harps. (On the difficulty of how each one could hold harps and bowls, see on ver. 6.) It is possible that the phrase refers only to the elders; for these seem more suitably employed in offering the prayers of the saints than the representatives of all creation. If, however, as Wordsworth considers, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders together symbolize the Church, the phrase would apply to both. The κινύρα of 1 Samuel 16:16, 23 (the κιθάρα of this passage) was played with the hand, and the instrument indicated was probably more of the nature of a guitar than the modern harp. And golden vials full of odours. The Revised Version "bowls" is better than "vials." The idea is, no doubt, taken from the shallow bowls which were placed upon the golden altar (Exodus 30:1-10), and in which incense was burned. The odours are the incense. In the same chapter of Exodus directions are given concerning the preparation and use of the incense, which was always a symbol of prayer, and always offered to God alone (cf. Psalm 141:2, "Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense;" also Luke 1:9, 10; Isaiah 6:3, 4). Which are the prayers of saints. The saints; that is, the members of the Church of God. Some authorities consider "vials" the antecedent of" which;" but it seems best to refer "which" to "odours," though the sense is not materially different, since the former includes the latter. Had taken (ἔλαβεν)

Lit., took. The aorist is resumed.

Every one of them harps (ἕκαστος κιθάρας)

Rev., less clumsily, having each one a harp. Each one, that is, of the elders. Κιθάρα harp signifies an instrument unlike our harp as ordinarily constructed. Rather a lute or guitar, to which latter word kithara is etymologically related. Anciently of a triangular shape, with seven strings, afterwards increased to eleven. Josephus says it had ten, and was played with a plectrum or small piece of ivory.

Vials (φιάλας)

Only in Revelation. The word vial, used commonly of a small bottle, gives a wrong picture here. The φιάλη was a broad, flat vessel, used for boiling liquids, sometimes as a cinerary urn, and for drinking, or pouring libations. Also of the shallow cup, usually without a foot, in which libations were drawn out of the mixer. Herodotus says that at Plataea the Spartan Helots were bidden by Pausanias to bring together the booty of the Persian camp, and that they found "many golden mixers and bowls (φιάλας), and other ἐκπώματα (drinking-vessels)" (ix., 30). From its broad, flat shape Ἄρεος φιάλη bowl of Mars was a comic metaphor for a shield. It was also used for sunken work in a ceiling. In the Septuagint the word is frequently used for bowls or basons. See Numbers 7:13, Numbers 7:19, Numbers 7:25, Numbers 7:31, Numbers 7:37, Numbers 7:43, etc.; 1 Kings 7:50; Zechariah 9:15. Here, censers, though several different words of the Septuagint and New Testament are rendered censer; as θυΐ́σκη, 1 Kings 7:50; θυμιατήριον, 2 Chronicles 26:19; Ezekiel 8:11; Hebrews 9:4; λιβανωτὸν, Revelation 8:3. Θυΐ́σκη however is the golden incense-cup or spoon to receive the frankincense which was lighted with coals from the brazen altar, and offered on the golden altar before the veil. The imagery is from the tabernacle and temple service.

Incense (θυμιαμάτων)

The directions for the composition of the incense for the tabernacle-worship, are given Exodus 30:37, Exodus 30:38.

Prayers

For incense as the symbol of prayer, see Leviticus 16:12, Leviticus 16:13; Psalm 141:2. See on Luke 1:9. Edersheim, describing the offering of incense in the temple, says: "As the President gave the word of command which marked that 'the time of incense had come,' the whole multitude of the people without withdrew from the inner court and fell down before the Lord, spreading their hands in silent prayer. It is this most solemn period, when, throughout the vast temple-buildings, deep silence rested on the worshipping multitude, while within the sanctuary itself the priest laid the incense on the golden altar, and the cloud of odors rose up before the Lord, which serves as the image of heavenly things in Revelation (Revelation 8:1, Revelation 8:3, Revelation 8:4). The prayers offered by priests and people at this part of the service are recorded by tradition as follows: 'True it is that Thou art Jehovah, our God and the God of our fathers; our King and the King of our fathers; our Savior and the Rock of our salvation; our Help and our Deliverer. Thy name is from everlasting, and there is no God beside Thee. A new song did they that were delivered sing to Thy name by the seashore. Together did all praise and own Thee as King, and say, 'Jehovah shall reign who saveth Israel.'" Compare "the Song of Moses," Revelation 15:3, and "a new song," Revelation 5:9.

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